DEVELOPMENT: Two questions to be answered
Two articles highlighted aspects of local housing and planning issues, (Northumberland Gazette, August 16).
On the one hand, there is ‘Objections to proposals for former school site’ – yet another controversial proposed development from Northumberland Estates.
On the other, ‘County is more than meeting its housing needs’. You report that current house building levels are higher than required.
A number of questions arise from this.
Firstly, is the current spate of applications from Northumberland Estates intended to take advantage of the situation where the Conservative-led county council has abandoned the Local Plan put in place by the previous administration, but has not yet put a new Plan in place?
The absence of a Local Plan reduces the ability of planning committees to reject or modify applications.
The issue was highlighted by comments you reported from the developers in relation to their proposal to build housing on the industrial site at Willowburn. Apparently, the same argument is being used by Northumberland Estates in relation to a proposal for large-scale house building north of Lesbury.
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The second question is about the type of new housing being built and the shortage of genuinely affordable housing and housing for social rent.
This makes it very difficult for young families and people on average incomes to live in the area and to contribute to the local economy, or for older people wishing to move into smaller premises near to local services.
The landowners and developers seem more concerned about cashing in on the value of their extensive land holdings than meeting local housing needs or supporting a sustainable economy and community. The result is too many upmarket developments geared to wealthy retirees and second home owners.
The council needs to meet its responsibilities and ensure that the scale and type of housing development is meeting the needs of the community, rather than the interests of landowners and developers.